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#1741956
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/co ... 16228.html

Robert Fisk: Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony

Tuesday, 30 December 2008


How easy it is to snap off the history of the Palestinians, to delete the narrative of their tragedy, to avoid a grotesque irony about Gaza which – in any other conflict – journalists would be writing about in their first reports: that the original, legal owners of the Israeli land on which Hamas rockets are detonating live in Gaza.


That is why Gaza exists: because the Palestinians who lived in Ashkelon and the fields around it – Askalaan in Arabic – were dispossessed from their lands in 1948 when Israel was created and ended up on the beaches of Gaza. They – or their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren – are among the one and a half million Palestinian refugees crammed into the cesspool of Gaza, 80 per cent of whose families once lived in what is now Israel. This, historically, is the real story: most of the people of Gaza don't come from Gaza.

But watching the news shows, you'd think that history began yesterday, that a bunch of bearded anti-Semitic Islamist lunatics suddenly popped up in the slums of Gaza – a rubbish dump of destitute people of no origin – and began firing missiles into peace-loving, democratic Israel, only to meet with the righteous vengeance of the Israeli air force. The fact that the five sisters killed in Jabalya camp had grandparents who came from the very land whose more recent owners have now bombed them to death simply does not appear in the story.

Both Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres said back in the 1990s that they wished Gaza would just go away, drop into the sea, and you can see why. The existence of Gaza is a permanent reminder of those hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who lost their homes to Israel, who fled or were driven out through fear or Israeli ethnic cleansing 60 years ago, when tidal waves of refugees had washed over Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War and when a bunch of Arabs kicked out of their property didn't worry the world.

Well, the world should worry now. Crammed into the most overpopulated few square miles in the whole world are a dispossessed people who have been living in refuse and sewage and, for the past six months, in hunger and darkness, and who have been sanctioned by us, the West. Gaza was always an insurrectionary place. It took two years for Ariel Sharon's bloody "pacification", starting in 1971, to be completed, and Gaza is not going to be tamed now.

Alas for the Palestinians, their most powerful political voice – I'm talking about the late Edward Said, not the corrupt Yassir Arafat (and how the Israelis must miss him now) – is silent and their predicament largely unexplained by their deplorable, foolish spokesmen. "It's the most terrifying place I've ever been in," Said once said of Gaza. "It's a horrifyingly sad place because of the desperation and misery of the way people live. I was unprepared for camps that are much worse than anything I saw in South Africa."

Of course, it was left to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to admit that "sometimes also civilians pay the price," an argument she would not make, of course, if the fatality statistics were reversed. Indeed, it was instructive yesterday to hear a member of the American Enterprise Institute – faithfully parroting Israel's arguments – defending the outrageous Palestinian death toll by saying that it was "pointless to play the numbers game". Yet if more than 300 Israelis had been killed – against two dead Palestinians – be sure that the "numbers game" and the disproportionate violence would be all too relevant. The simple fact is that Palestinian deaths matter far less than Israeli deaths. True, we know that 180 of the dead were Hamas members. But what of the rest? If the UN's conservative figure of 57 civilian fatalities is correct, the death toll is still a disgrace.

To find both the US and Britain failing to condemn the Israeli onslaught while blaming Hamas is not surprising. US Middle East policy and Israeli policy are now indistinguishable and Gordon Brown is following the same dog-like devotion to the Bush administration as his predecessor.

As usual, the Arab satraps – largely paid and armed by the West – are silent, preposterously calling for an Arab summit on the crisis which will (if it even takes place), appoint an "action committee" to draw up a report which will never be written. For that is the way with the Arab world and its corrupt rulers. As for Hamas, they will, of course, enjoy the discomfiture of the Arab potentates while cynically waiting for Israel to talk to them. Which they will. Indeed, within a few months, we'll be hearing that Israel and Hamas have been having "secret talks" – just as we once did about Israel and the even more corrupt PLO. But by then, the dead will be long buried and we will be facing the next crisis since the last crisis.
User avatar
By Nets
#1742221
War Angel, Fisk is actually a pretty good writer, just he is very loose with the facts which is frustrating. He reads better as literature than sound journalism -- though to his credit he admits he doesn't try be evenhanded or balanced, he has a side and he bolsters that side. Since he openly admits his political agenda and has no pretense of objectivity I don't mind him much.

Anyways, it is called "Fisking" for a reason.
User avatar
By War Angel
#1742241
War Angel, Fisk is actually a pretty good writer

Yes, and he uses his verbal skill for evil.

Since he openly admits his political agenda and has no pretense of objectivity I don't mind him much.

Openly admit? When? "Hi, I'm Robert Fisk, and I'm an agent of the Muslim world" ?

Anyways, it is called "Fisking" for a reason.

Haha, 'the act of false accusation and biased reporting' ? :lol:
By Maas
#1742283
Haha, 'the act of false accusation and biased reporting'

there should be something simular for posters

I like gonzo-journalism much better "first person narrative with a style that tends to blend factual and fictional"
the guy who did that eventually wrote fear and loathing in las vegas :lol:
By Dempsey
#1742387
I suppose everyone can decide a starting point in war between Israel and her neighbours. Fisk is basically advocating the Arab line: this matter will not be resolved until the Palestinians are able to return to their homes. In his book Pity the Nation he had some basic Palestinan mythology tales about the Palestinians in the refugee camps in Gaza and Lebanon still have their houses keys since 1948. He also argues no Palestinian leader in 1948 urged the Palestinian people to leave their homes, but that was Israeli propaganda. Which is false.

At the end end of World War II Gaza was then a small, poor, rather dirty Arab town which had already been ethnically cleaned of its minority native Jewish population following the two pogroms of 1922 and 1929. Until the latter date several of the surrounding orange groves were Jewish-owned. So a number of those who fled the fields around Askelon may be living in houses and on fields which once, under the Turks, belonged to Jews.

Between 1947 and 1967, 800,000 Arabs fled from what is now Israel. During the same 20 years 1,000,000 Jews fled from or were expelled from Arab countries. In Lebanon where Mr. Fisk lives there were 30,000 Jews in 1947, now there are less than 100. But he would argue the creation of the Israeli state and the violence committed henceforth by that state have unfortunately made it impossible for any Arab to accept a Jew, whether the Jew is of Arab origin or otherwise, to live amongst them. This logic should applies also to the 1948 war when Egypt aided and abetted by Arab irregulars in that area (some of whom now reside in Gaza) to crash Israel.

Robert Fisk has the ultimate answer why Gaza Strip is "the most crowded place on earth". It is because the inhabitants of 247 villages in Southern Palestine were ethnically cleansed by the Israelis in 1948. They were herded in what is now Gaza Strip. He's not mentioning Gaza's refugee camps exist because the Egyptians found the refugees to be cheap, convenient cannon fodder, and the muslim world's 40 some votes at the UN enabled them to make UNWRA the only refugee agency in the world dedicated to maintaining the stateless status of the population there. According to CIA factbook there are 1.5 million residents of Gaza. Most are natives. As far as Gaza being the most "overpopulated" spot on the earth, again not true. Gaza has 4818 residents per sq. mile, while Singapore and Hong Kong have more than 6,300. (source: U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base.)

there were 14 million german refugees aftre the war.
there were millions of indian and pakistani refugees
there were turkish and greek refugees
there were millions of refugees in south korea who moved to china
there are millions of refugees in south east asia.


Before people occupied lands, there were animals. Maybe we should give all land on earth back to animals and take off to outer space and find a place where no life existed before.
Last edited by Dempsey on 02 Jan 2009 01:05, edited 1 time in total.
By Dempsey
#1742921
Nets wrote:War Angel, Fisk is actually a pretty good writer, just he is very loose with the facts which is frustrating.


Indeed. And he does it in a very cunning and subtle way. He writes: "Both Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres said back in the 1990s that they wished Gaza would just go away, drop into the sea, and you can see why. " while in reality only Rabin in his army general rough manners said that (in the context why he was willing to leave Gaza). But Mr Fisk is careful in his prime aim to include Peres just to delegitimise Peres (*read his book about Armenia genocide) as the archetype of the "good Zionist" in the liberal western world. Knowing few will check that while the grand narrative he's offering is so appealing.

But this article goes further. He delegitimises the whole Zionist project.



History driven by agenda

THE GREAT WAR FOR CIVILISATION by Robert Fisk
REVIEWED BY MICHAEL SHERIDAN



Michael Sheridan


At first I was pleased, if mystified, to read the author disinterring the Armenian genocide, a deed that certainly requires commemoration. But his broader purpose is to illustrate what he calls “Israel’s practice of dissociating the Armenian Holocaust from the Jewish Holocaust, creating a uniqueness about the Jewish experience of persecution which no other ethnic group was to be permitted to share”. It requires supreme self-confidence to lay down the law on the definition of Holocaust denial to Israeli politicians such as Shimon Peres. Fisk does not shrink from doing so.
By kyleb
#1743285
Dempsey wrote:He also argues no Palestinian leader in 1948 urged the Palestinian people to leave their homes, but that was Israeli propaganda. Which is false.

Proof?
User avatar
By Nets
#1743335
^ Dispute how significant it was in the overall displacement, but Fisk is clearly lying there.

Wiki wrote:Former Prime Minister of Syria Khalid al-Azm recalled in his memoirs:

Since 1948 it is we who demanded the return of the refugees to their country, while it is we who made them leave it. […]
We brought disaster upon one million Arab refugees, by inviting them and bringing pressure to bear upon them to leave their land, their homes, their work and their industry. We have rendered them dispossessed, unemployed, whilst every one of them had work or a trade by which he could gain his livelihood.[19]

After the war, a few Arab leaders tried to present the Palestinian exodus as a victory by claiming to have planned it. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Said was later quoted as saying: "We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down."[20]

Contemporary Jordanian politician Anwar Nusseibeh believed that the fault for the exodus and military loss was with the Arab commanders:

"the commanders of the local army thought in terms of the revolt against the British in the 1930s. The rebels had often retreated to the mountains, which made sense, as the British had not sought to take control of the country. But the Jews were fighting for complete domination, so the fighters had erred in withdrawing from the villages instead of defending them […]. He blamed himself as well. 'I underestimated the strength of my own people,' he wrote. […] His central thesis, however, was that the Palestinian Arabs could have won the country had their leaders not sabotaged the war effort and known how to cooperate."[21]

The Arab National Committee of Haifa, the Arab leadership in Haifa in 1948, wrote and delivered a report on the flight of roughly 60,000 Arabs from Haifa. The report said, "[T]he removal of the Arab inhabitants from the town was voluntary and carried out at our request."[22]

"Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes and property and to stay temporarily in neighboring, brotherly states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down," wrote Habab Issa of Al-Hoda, the leading newspaper for Lebanese Maronites in the United States.[23] A Muslim weekly newspaper in Beirut similarly reported, "Who brought the Palestinians to Lebanon as refugees, suffering now from the malign attitude of newspapers and communal leaders […]? The Arab States [sp], and Lebanon amongst them, did it!"[24]

Mahmoud Abbas, at the time Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, would later recall: "The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny but, instead, they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live."[25]
By Michaeluj
#1744030
So Fisk isn't perfect. Can anyone find a journalist who truely is?
User avatar
By Nets
#1744033
Michaeluj, the accuracy complaints aren't against his journalism works but his books. He should have ample to time adequately research a purportedly non-fiction book, understandably less so for a journalism article.
By sploop!
#1744054
It's amazing isn't it, that the Arabs just cannot get it right. They were apparently wrong to suggest women and children move from the war zone in the 1940s, and they are wrong now, apparently, for not doing it.

To me it makes no difference one way or another. The Palestinians that stayed put in the 1940s were often massacred or driven out; the ones who left 'of their own accord' clearly did so because of the invading Jewish murderers, and had every expectation that they would be able to return. Nothing the Zionists say can hide the fact that they stole someone else's land.

tomkirschner: My thoughts are that anyone, journalist, author, politician, UN politician, Priest, etc., that uses the word "disproportionate" to describe either Israel's actions - or that of any other nation whose citizens are being attacked while engaged in a conflict

The failure of your logic can be found in Nazi Germany.
By Dempsey
#1744239
More ramble from Mr Fisk. "Cast Lead" name bemused him. Robert Fisk should indeed do his homework. Cast Lead comes from a Hanukkah poem by C. N. Bialik about a dreidel made of cast iron. ("...Dreidel made by cast lead..."). As for the Israeli army own name for 1982 war it was actually Oranim (pine trees) and in fact there were two version of it "big" and "little".

The Hebrew acronym of Peace for Galilee makes out the word snow. Therefore the title of journalist Shimon Shiffer's book on the war which played on the double meaning was rendered in English as Snowball. That is where Fisk heard it. But he should not rely on his memory but check before he makes such an assertion. Snowball was never a codename for the operation.

Jon Stewart about the toy.

Dreidel, Dreidel

Jon receives an unusual toy and wonders how it didn't take over Christmas.





Israel's latest military operation started in Hanukka therefore the name. Its sort of double meaning. He had some more mistakes. ..."Operation Grapes of Wrath was no tribute to John Steinbeck but took its name from the blood-and-vengeance Book of Deuteronomy wherein chapter 32..." I guess he takes his misinformation from Arab sources.



http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/co ... rtindex=-1

Robert Fisk's World: What's in a name? Quite a lot, where the military is concerned

Churchill objected to names of a frivolous nature and banned Operation Bunnyhug

Saturday, 3 January 2009


I am bemused by the name of Israel's latest military operation against Hamas (and the usual cull of toddlers) in Gaza. The Israeli military calls it Operation Cast Lead. Come again? "Cast Iron" I might understand, though it would woefully misrepresent Israel's policies since they will in due course talk to the "blood-soaked terrorists" of Hamas when it suites their purposes just as they eventually talked to the "blood-soaked terrorists" of the PLO.


Armies like to tell us that their operational names come from a computer though I always doubted this. Operation Iraqi Freedom did not come from a computer. Operation Litani – Israel's hopeless 1978 invasion of Lebanon – didn't come from a computer either. Nor did Operation Peace for Galilee – the even more hopeless 1982 invasion of Lebanon that took the Israeli army to Beirut and infamy at Sabra and Chatila. Besides, the real military name of Peace for Galilee was Operation Snowball. And as we all know, snowballs get bigger as they roll downhill.

Perhaps it's nostalgia for real history, but I always thought the armies of the Second World War had a better flair for names. Operation Overlord – D-Day on 6 June 1944 – was a real cracker. So was Operation Torch (the invasion of North Africa), though Operation Market Garden – the landings at Arnhem – pretty much reflected its dismal results.

Nazi Germany's ferocious Operation Barbarossa – the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 – was named after the 12th-century King Frederick of Germany and chief executive officer of the Holy Roman Empire. The much postponed and cancelled German invasion of England in 1940 would have been Operation Sea Lion – Winston Churchill must have appreciated that – although my graduate research into Irish neutrality in the Second World War revealed that Germany's tentative plans to invade de Valera's island was to have been called merely Operation Green. Well, it would, wouldn't it?

Churchill himself had strong views about such nomenclature. Indeed, a largely forgotten disquisition on the subject can be found in a memo he wrote to General Hastings Lionel "Pug" Ismay, his chief of staff, on 8 August 1943. "Operations in which large numbers of men may lose their lives," Churchill wrote, "ought not to be described by code words which imply boastful and overconfident sentiment, such as 'Triumphant', or, conversely, which are calculated to invest the plan with an air of despondency, such as 'Woebetide', 'Massacre', 'Jumble', 'Trouble', 'Fidget', 'Flimsy', 'Pathetic', and 'Jaundice'."

Churchill also objected to "names of a frivolous character" and therefore banned Operations Bunnyhug, Billingsgate, Aperitif and Ballyhoo.

"After all," Churchill added, "the world is wide and intelligent thought will readily supply an unlimited number of well-sounding names which do not suggest the character of the operation or disparage it in any way and do not enable some widow or mother to say that her son was killed in an operation called 'Bunnyhug' or 'Ballyhoo'."

Churchill preferred proper names, the heroes of antiquity, figures from Greek and Roman mythology, the constellations and stars, famous racehorses – was it a ghost of this idea that persuaded the Ministry of Defence to call its 1990 airlift of troops to Saudi Arabia Operation Ascot? – and the names of British and American war heroes. As usual, Churchill was a bit preachy. "Care should be taken in all this process," he wrote. "An efficient and successful administration manifests itself equally in small as in great matters." If only.

The Americans followed Churchill's advice when they decided to organise a coup to overthrow the democratically elected Mohammad Mossadeq of Iran in 1953. They called it Operation Ajax, though this might actually have fallen into Churchill's "despondency" bracket. Ajax was second only to Achilles in bravery, but he killed himself in a fit of madness. "Monty" Woodhouse, MI5's man in Tehran, chose a more prosaic name for the whole fandango: Operation Boot.

Muslim armies tend to be a little tiresome in their operational titles. During the Iran-Iraq war, the Iranians named their attacks after prayers and then gave them numbers. The Fajr ("Dawn") operation was followed, I'm afraid, by Fajr Two, Fajr Three, Fajr Four and so on. Not very inventive. I guess the most frightening Middle Eastern name of all was Israel's Operation Grapes of Wrath, which reached its appalling end after Israeli artillerymen killed 106 Lebanese civilians – more than half of them children – in the south Lebanese village of Qana in 1996.

Operation Grapes of Wrath was no tribute to John Steinbeck but took its name from the blood-and-vengeance Book of Deuteronomy wherein chapter 32, the song of Moses before he dies leading his Jewish people towards the promised land, speaks of those who will be destroyed by the wrath of God. "The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young men and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of grey hairs," announced verse 25.

Not a bad description of the Qana massacre. And this week, not a bad account of Israel's Gaza shenanigans. Maybe the Israelis should take a leaf out of Iran's book and call it Operation Grapes of Wrath Two.



User avatar
By Nets
#1744560
Sploop! wrote:It's amazing isn't it, that the Arabs just cannot get it right.


And reading your posts, the Arabs can do nothing but get it right.

They were apparently wrong to suggest women and children move from the war zone in the 1940s, and they are wrong now, apparently, for not doing it.


You leave out the salient fact that they were told to leave, so that the Arab armies could slaughter what was left. Azzam Pasha, secretary of the Arab League, said in May 1948: "Arab intention to wage a war to the end, a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades."

The Arabs left with the intention of returning, no doubt, but they expected to return to a Judenrein landscape. Six Arab states contravened the UN and attacked; and then paid the consequences.

To me it makes no difference one way or another. The Palestinians that stayed put in the 1940s were often massacred or driven out; the ones who left 'of their own accord' clearly did so because of the invading Jewish murderers, and had every expectation that they would be able to return.


Because Arab forces are completely innocent? The Arabs never massacred and expelled civilians during the war? I don't mind you criticizing IDF tactics during the war, but the blindspot you have for the Arabs is frustrating.
By kyleb
#1744656
Nets wrote:^ Dispute how significant it was in the overall displacement, but Fisk is clearly lying there.

I am disputing the claim. It is easy to call anyone a liar by misrepresenting their words.

Regardless, what is mostly quotes after the fact doesn't amount to much, especially without dates to understand the context.

Nets wrote:You leave out the salient fact that they were told to leave, so that the Arab armies could slaughter what was left. Azzam Pasha, secretary of the Arab League, said in May 1948: "Arab intention to wage a war to the end, a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades."


That was May 15, eh? Directly after Israel doubled it's territory, displacing hundreds of thousands of Arab civilians and declaring statehood on their land? In that context, one could hardly expect an Arab leader to speak with less fury.
User avatar
By War Angel
#1744771
That was May 15, eh? Directly after Israel doubled it's territory, displacing hundreds of thousands of Arab civilians and declaring statehood on their land?

No - Israel declared independence, and only THEN the Arab countries invaded. That's when the war broke out. Fortunately for us, we won that war, and even with a little bit more land than we had before. :)
By kyleb
#1746228
War Angel wrote:No - Israel declared independence, and only THEN the Arab countries invaded.


What do you mean by "no"? I didn't suggest any different than that.

I did however also mention the fact that Israelis displaced hundreds of thousands of Arab civilians from across both sides to the U.N. partition plan thought the weeks prior to declaring statehood.

Are you denying that fact?
By Dempsey
#1746338
Robert Fisk: Keeping out the cameras and reporters simply doesn't work

Monday, 5 January 2009

George W Bush: Hamas is entirely responsible for the Israeli invasion of Gaza

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/co ... 25800.html

What is Israel afraid of? Using the old "enclosed military area" excuse to prevent coverage of its occupation of Palestinian land has been going on for years. But the last time Israel played this game – in Jenin in 2000 – it was a disaster. Prevented from seeing the truth with their own eyes, reporters quoted Palestinians who claimed there had been a massacre by Israeli soldiers – and Israel spent years denying it. In fact, there was a massacre, but not on the scale that it was originally reported.

That the Israelis should use an old Soviet tactic to blind the world's vision of war may not be surprising. But the result is that Palestinian voices – as opposed to those of Western reporters – are now dominating the airwaves. The men and women who are under air and artillery attack by the Israelis are now telling their own story on television and radio and in the papers as they have never been able to tell it before, without the artificial "balance", which so much television journalism imposes on live reporting. Perhaps this will become a new form of coverage – letting the participants tell their own story. The flip side, of course, is that there is no Westerner in Gaza to cross-question Hamas's devious account of events: another victory for the Palestinian militia, handed to them on a plate by the Israelis.

But there is also a darker side. Israel's version of events has been given so much credence by the dying Bush administration that the ban on journalists entering Gaza may simply be of little importance to the Israeli army. By the time we investigate, whatever they are trying to hide will have been overtaken by another crisis in which they can claim to be in the "front line" in the "war on terror".

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 439608.ece

From The Sunday Times

January 4, 2009

Israel has no choice but to be tough on Hamas - and Iran The dangers from Tel Aviv’s enemies are rising while its support around the world falls

Benny Morris

Israeli foreboding has general sources and specific causes. The general problems are simple. First, the Arab and wider Islamic worlds have never accepted the legitimacy of Israel’s creation or the continued existence of the Jewish state, notwithstanding Israel’s peace treaties with the Egyptian and Jordanian regimes, signed respectively in 1979 and 1994.

Second, public support for Israel in the West (and in democracies, governments can’t be far behind) has steadily withered over the past few decades, as the memory of the Holocaust - which in an ill-defined but general way underwrote Israel - has dimmed and as Arab power and assertiveness have surged. As well, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and its occasionally heavy-handed treatment of the Arabs have played a part.

Between 1948 and 1982 Israel coped relatively well with the conventional threats posed by the armies of the Arab states, trouncing them repeatedly. But the current threats are unconventional and pose a far more difficult challenge. This past week, Israel has taken on one of them, the Hamas rocketry; in future, it is likely to confront - in the absence of cogent western intervention - the far more dire threat of Iran’s atomic programme.

Benny Morris teaches Middle East history at Ben-Gurion University, Israel, and is author of 1948, A History of the First Arab-Israeli War
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